Nancy thought if she broke away from her extended family – parents, husband, two of her four adult children – she’d be alone and lonely the rest of her life. Most of her family bullied, abused and used her. Since that was family, she thought she’d never find people nicer and kinder. She was also sure she didn’t know how to have good relationships.
Nancy grew up lived in a cult of users.
Why do I call her extended family a “cult?” Two reasons:
They have the symptoms of cults. For example; other people knew what was right and true, what she should and must do, staying with them was her only way to salvation, she couldn’t trust herself, she must serve them, they need her to help them, if she tried to leave they’d destroy her, they said she was too helpless and incompetent to succeed in the outside world, everyone outside was wrong, bad and dangerous, etc.
I didn’t want her to look for psychological reasons to excuse their behavior and to minimize her pain. I wanted the word “cult” to make her so angry and strong, brave and determined, she’d resist their lies and break free.
Nancy had been groomed to serve.
The only roles that won her relief from negativity and criticism, verbal abuse and physical beatings were servant or slave, enabler or competent fixer. She was bullied and guilt-tripped to stop being selfish; stop putting her wants and needs before the feelings of others.
Even when she was an adult, they never showed real kindness or consideration of her wants. The most happiness she felt were moments of relief from pain and torment. Sometimes, she was promised something she wanted but it was always jerked away at the last moment. She was not allowed to enjoy a few moments of peace and quiet by herself, or to visit someone she might have enjoyed.
Nancy was condemned if she did something, condemned if she didn’t.
Whatever she did was either wrong or never good enough. Sometimes, the criticism was openly abusive or sarcastic, while other times it was subtle so she couldn’t object and defend herself. Even if she did what was demanded, they’d say she misunderstood and did it the wrong way. Or they’d deny they ever said it and witness for each other that she was wrong.
She was shocked to realize they didn’t care; she was merely prey.
She was trained to beat herself, “What did I do wrong? Nobody who cared would act the way they did unless I’d provoked them terribly.” Of course her self-doubt increased while her self-confidence and self-esteem plummeted.
Nancy had failed to change them using every method she could find about how to communicate better and to be a better, more caring, understanding and forgiving person. She’d tried to please them all her life; she’d done nothing wrong; their behavior was not her fault.
Every situation, all the patterns were explained simply; they didn’t care about her. They were selfish narcissists; she counted no more than a servant and whipping post. She’d been raised in a cult of users and abusers.
She was horrified at the realization and started testing them. Each time, they proved her new insight was accurate.
Despite the difficulty, Nancy broke free; step by step.
At first, she was immobilized by her fears and isolation. But she was helped by writing a short story of her life as a struggle to escape from bondage in order to be free. They’d tortured her and keep her in solitary confinement so she wouldn’t feel equipped to deal with the outside world.
Now her Spirit and anger rose up and kept her on track. She’d get free or die trying. First she stopped accepting her role in the cult, no matter how they threatened or tried to manipulate her back into slavery. Then she made distance between her and followers of the cult.
Each small step she took helped her take more steps. Each step backward meant she’d try harder next time. Simple and clear, even if not easy.
She was surprised when she attracted new people who wanted to enjoy her company in a reciprocal way.
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.